In a move that may represent a new level of social health organization within large institutions, the Mayo Clinic today announced that it has launched The Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media. Mayo intends to “accelerate effective application of social media tools throughout Mayo Clinic and to spur broader and deeper engagement in social media by hospitals, medical professionals and patients to improve health globally.”
Look for more information in Mayo’s press release which is diplomatically vague while at the same time lofty and enticing.
So what does this really mean?
The Mayo Clinic recognizes opportunity. The opportunity to formally offer comprehensive social media training to hospitals and medical schools is huge. The Mayo Clinic can and should leverage what they’ve done both to their own advantage and to help create a new standard for providers. While the details are forthcoming, Aase tells us that Mayo wants to make available its resources, training, toolkits and legal guidelines to fledgling hospitals.
Health care social media isn’t owned by marketing. Mayo’s center may well serve as a solid example of how health care organizations should formalize their social efforts beyond the desolate confines of marketing. In doing so they can serve as solid proof of social’s real utility in the functioning of a 21st century medical institution. I can already picture the reaction in some organizations, “A medical director for social media?” Just direct them to this video from the Center for Social Media Medical Director, Victor Montori, for some insight on how all physicians and medical execs should be thinking.
One giant step towards the legitimacy of health care social media. As isolated case studies evolve, we’re becoming more comfortable with social tools as a means of improving health literacy. Expect medical schools and other institutions to follow suit as the Mayo Clinic forces social media not as an experiment but an expected standard in both education and research.
Look for competition. While Mayo has set the standard in this arena look to large competing health organizations to replicate their efforts and seize the opportunity for the upside that comes with large-scale seminars and consulting. There will be increasing competition for dollars as health organizations seek real expertise in moving social media from experiment to core competency.
And one last thing: As a global leader in the use of social media in health care, perhaps Mayo can initiate the discussion of when media professionals drafting press releases should finally drop the quotes when discussing Twitter “followers.”
Let me know your thoughts.